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Analysis of Hugo Chavez and Muamar Gaddafi’s Reign Through Machiavelli’s Eye Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 13th, 2020


Even after independence, the negative authority still exists in various states. Political leaders have replaced foreign rules by native dictatorship (Weisberg, 2007). Those in power have misused their power by creating hierarchies, structures, and models that were used during colonialism (Ascher and Mirovit︠s︡kai︠a︡, 2012). Due to such leadership behaviors, political scientists such as Machiavelli have tried to redefine politics.

He, therefore, came up with the characteristics of a true politician (Baumgartner and Leech, 2012). According to him, politicians should protect people’s rights without discrimination or favor.

This has been in direct conflict with the current status in politicsthe and ethics hence calling current leaders into question. This research focuses on two former heads of state; Hugo Chavez and Muammar Gaddafi. In order to know what is so scientific about political science, this study analyzes the reign of the two leaders by investigating their relationship with the people.

Problem statement

The last days of Muamur Gaddafi in office was marked with hostility and frequent revolutions. His relation with the western world was also poor thereby making his country to suffer from economic seclusions and sanctions. It was so sad that the same African hero who embraced panafricanism and even chaired African Union later died in the hands of rebels who had for years sought to remove him from power.

Hugo Chavez, on the other hand, is a Latin American president who went through the challenges of political leadership and emerged victorious all through his tenure. His people loved his leadership and even wished he never died. When one country celebrates the death of its president and another cries and wishes the president was alive, questions of leadership traits arise.

It was due to such happenings that the two regimes were scrutinized and observations of the variations made. By comparing these two leaders to Machiavellian prince and how they tend to behave in their natural environment, the research was expected to yield positive results.

Methods and materials

In the research model to test for the hypothesis, the dependent variable was incumbent presidents while various phenomena that had an effect on the dependent variable such as unemployment rate formed independent variable (Caterino and Schram, 2006). By collecting data on unemployment rate and comparing it with reelection of the incumbent, the two relationships are easily compared.

In Libya for instance, dependent variables included inflation. Among the materials used in this research was hardware that was used to store a number of data for analysis. Some interviews were also recorded on tape to save time and to ensure accurate information was stored.

Interviews were also conducted both in the cities and villages of the two sample countries where each individual was allowed to express their opinion and views on what they exactly felt about these politicians. The interviews were conducted during the president’s reign and after their tenor in order to identify the difference between the two incumbents. In the cities, questionnaires were also given to individuals because of the population.

The questionnaires were structured depending on the sample population. In Libya, for instance, the Muslim communities were provided with different questionnaires because there was a feeling that there were divergent views due to religious difference.

This information was meant to help know how these two religious groups felt about their leaders. There was need to reach out to a large number of people and this could only happen with the help of questionnaires. After gathering secondary data from demographics, the data was thoroughly scrutinized in order to prepare it for analysis.

Sources of the secondary data included government printouts, ministerial reports and journals and articles in the journals where various activists express their opinions. Reports were also provided by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America. Other background information from the media on historical injustices in these countries was also taken into consideration.

During Gaddafi’s reign, several cases of injustices and human right infringement were reported. In order to confirm such claims, emphasis was placed on the various cases so as to find the truth. The manner in which these injustices were handled by the leaders during their reign was another area of concern. This led to using reports on the decided court cases as sources of secondary information.

Literature review

Politics is always related to leadership and management which should be the case. However, every individual has tried to define politics according to the way politicians behave and the response of their subjects towards their action. While management deals with effective decision making, politicians are charged with the responsibility of making or influencing decisions in their respective positions (Baumgartner and Leech, 2012).

When they fail do perform such functions, their subjects develop hatred towards them and always try to find opportunities to stop their reign. Various leadership traits are common with politicians. They are communists, nationalists, and majorly ideologists.

In most countries of the world, removing an incumbent president has is has been long lost battle since colonialism. In Africa, for instance, leaders have not matured politically and people always want to use power to oppress their subjects. The incumbent heads of state always reward those who become loyal to them and threaten to kill those who oppose their governments and claim that their democratic rights are infringed.

Poor leadership leads to poor economy and weak ties. In his inaugural speech, the president of the United States, Barack Obama stated that if people are created equal then the love they show should be equal as well.

A president takes an oath to serve a nation without fear or favor and to respect the rule of law but such promises are never fulfilled once he takes office. A behavioral human relation plays an important role in the way a politician rules a nation (Great Britain, 2012).

There are various politicians who have the belief that the end always justifies the means. Such politicians never have their subjects at heart. It is called the politics of exclusion where decisions are made at higher levels without the concerns of the electorate. The politicians only involve their subjects in their campaigns; merely using them to gain power

Politics has been perceived as a dirty game where people struggle to survive. As it is in most cases, politics is a continuous struggle of who gets what, how and when. This struggle can sometimes be as modest as different groups competing for control over a municipal budge (Clarke and Primo, 2012). However, the struggle can also be as overwhelming as military stand-off between superpowers.

Such struggles have led to violence hence making politics a fodder that feeds writers articles. Political specialists such as Machiavelli have learnt these types of struggles, both large and small, in a bid to come up with general theories and ideologies about the way most world leaders conduct themselves (Farr, 1993).

Political hypothesis analyzes politics and its primary perceptions such as democratic systems, power and the association between individuals and the state.

Data analysis: Hugo Chavez

In his essay on whether Fidel Castro qualifies as a Machiavellian prince, Professor Alfred G. Cuzan explains how a place of birth is significant in molding someone’s character (Cuzán, 2004). Hugo Chavez and Machiavelli have so many common tendencies. Hugo Chavez was born in 1954 in Venezuela’s remote province called Sabaneta.

Such a humble background helped him grow in politics with a view of respecting his subjects and treating them with the dignity they deserved (Corrales and Penfold, 2011).

It was until his graduation from Venezuelan Academy of Military science that he became a renowned leader and demanded so much attention due to the military appointments. This, however, did not take his humility away. This humble background can be compared to the one the Machiavellian Prince had until he later rose to glory.

The former Venezuela’s president studied history and came up with his own left wing political ideology known as Chavism. Unlike Machiavelli’s Prince, he was his own mentor and even named his ideologies after himself. In early 1980s, he came up with the idea of Bolivarianism (Ellner and Tinker, 2006). In this ideology, Hugo Chavez focused on implementing social reforms with the idea of Bolivarian revolution.

It was this idea that gave the Venezuelan citizens a new constitution. With new laws governing the Latin American state, a good democratic environment was able to develop. The new constitution also altered the structure of Venezuelan government. This move played a significant role in his re-election in 2000 as the president of Venezuela.

Due to his career as a military officer, he had enough practical knowledge of terrain. Hugo Chaves served in the military for seventeen years which was long enough for him to familiarize with the terrain. The military is always a disciplined force where characters and conceptual skills are developed (Gettell, 2000).

This is the reason why he grew up developing admirable quality skills of leadership. He was not just a president but also a manager. This was due to the leadership roles he had while serving his nation as a soldier. Every individual is obliged to love such a leader.

The Machiavellian people, on the other hand, hated their Prince because he oppressed them by his poor leadership skills. In his reign, he created a strong army that he solemnly relied on as a source of protection both for the country and himself (Levin, 2007). This security also motivated the citizen and created peace between them and their neighbors.

In his second term, Hugo Chavez tried to avoid contempt by alleviating poverty. His Bolivarian revolution ideology enabled nationalization of industries, increased government funding of healthcare and education hence he significantly reduced poverty. Hugo Chavez introduced worker-managed cooperatives were individuals were to be their own managers.

Chavez was doing this to avoid the blames that were increasing on the government regarding fundings (Marcano, Barrera and Cordero, 2007). He also made this move in order help people improve the savings and investments in Venezuela. This was, however, contrary to the Machiavellian Prince’s tendency of creating wealth for self gain which was literally referred to as greed by the people.

Hugo Chavez was loved by his subjects because of his quest to improve Venezuela’s quality of life. The respondents here expressed their love for this leader with some stating that he came up with much awaited land reforms showing his respect for the property of subjects (Kozloff, 2007).

The record from United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America also shows that poverty rate in 2002 was 48.6% but it later went down to 29.5% in 2011. Further analysis of the 2012 election report also showed that people preferred Chaves as their president because he improved their living standards. He was a courageous anti-imperialist and a vocal critic of neoliberalism.

Hugo Chaves was also highly controversial, strong and divisive (Young, 2007). Instead of seeking support from great nations, he criticized their heads of states. He wanted his nation to stand out in Latin America and show other states the importance of being an independent state that has self reliance (Jacobsen and Lipman, 2009).

The results from a research on United States media sources showed that Chaves had one time compared president George W Bush to a donkey and the devil. He had also been saying that United States of America undermined his government.

Even with such challenges in international relations, Hugo Chaves did not give up on his allies contrary to Machiavellian’s Prince (Mansfield, 2000). He maintained ties with this super-power but criticized some of their ideas and philosophies.

Data analysis: Muammar Gaddafi

Nicole Machiavelli suggested in his book, The Prince that a successful prince must maintain occasional cruelty to keep subjects faithful and obedient. Murmur Gaddafi showed his capacity to be cruel when he allowed arbitrary arrests. Sources from Libyan media prove that Gaddafi broadcasted recordings of mutilations of political opponents on state television (Roberts, 2013).

He was using this tactic to create fear among his subjects. Machiavelli may have applauded these ruthful leadership criteria. Moreover, his attempt to create Pan-Arab union which according to Machiavelli was an effort to strengthen his reputation was admired by the people. Although his reign was full of cruelty, Gaddafi was still held in high regard by his populace

While his brutal approach may be considered consistent with Machiavelli’s idea that “the end justifies the means”, there were a lot of questions one could ask about Gaddafi regarding his goals and motivations (Ruffo-Fiore, 2009).

Holding on to power seemed to be his motivation and the reason for oppressive policies. Gaddafi showed another prince’s dictum which denies that subjects can both love and fear their leaders. In such a case, a Machiavellian Prince prefers being feared.

According to Machiavelli, “a wise ruler will seek to ensure that his citizens, no matter what the circumstance, have an interest in preserving both him and his authority” (Mansfield, 2009). However, Gaddafi failed to meet this criterion towards the end of his reign. His army was slaughtering and bombing the Libyan people making him intensely unpopular.

Cuzan wondered why the Cuban people derived vicarious pleasure from Fidel Castro’s glory when he confiscated property and rendered everyone insecure (Cuzán, 2004). Perhaps Libya also had peculiar people who loved shrewd leadership. Gaddafi used the revenues from Libyan oil to enrich himself and build himself a strong military base and still received support from loyal friends. He never cared about the increasing inflation rate in the country. He is remembered for his investments in African countries due to his overwhelming oil business. Just as Chavez, Gaddafi also nationalized oil in Libya in order to increase revenue. He even privatized the economy in 1999 (Sullivan, 2009). However, contrary to Machiavelli’s Prince, he did not have the interest of Libyans at heart during his dealings. He also used the increased revenue to bolster Libyan military which he solemnly relied upon. Gaddafi had enough practical knowledge of military skills because he had served in the military in his early days.

When Libyan situation resulted in a full-blown civil war, his superior fire power gave him an upper hand. He had however lost allies and friends outside Libya contrary to Machiavelli’s advice due to his brutal killing of protesters (Sullivan, 2009). In 2011, the United Nations voted to declare Libya a no-fly zone.

The air strike did not even stop his ungovernable pride. Gaddafi instead remained defiant as the hatred of his people gave him only one choice, to flee the country. He was at the mercies of his people as in the case of Mussolini, a Machiavelli’s countryman who was killed by his people because of maltreatment (Mansfield, 2009).


When dealing with human beings, politicians must understand that their subjects are not creatures of logic but creatures of emotions. Politicians are expected to treat people with respect and the dignity that they deserve.

Although both Muammar Gaddafi and Hugo Chavez match Machiavellian Prince in various respects, the former Libyan president is fundamentally different from him. The Libyan people were sole victims of Gaddafi’s tyranny which was contrary to the ancient understanding of Machiavelli’s prince. He is not a tyrant.


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